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McConnell: Trump should 'pull back from the brink' on tariffs 

McConnell: Trump should 'pull back from the brink' on tariffs 
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout Sanders: Democrats ‘absolutely’ have chance to win back rural America  Trump privately ready to blame Ryan and McConnell if Republicans lose midterms: report MORE (R-Ky.) is urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: report MORE to "pull back from the brink" from an international fight over tariffs, warning they could start a "trade war."

"I don't think anything good will come out of a trade war, and I hope we pull back from the brink here," McConnell said at the Greater Louisville Inc.'s Congressional Summit in Kentucky on Friday, according to the local business journal.

"These tariffs will not be good for the economy, and I worry that it will slow, or impede significantly, the progress we're making economically," McConnell added.

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The Republican leader's comments are the latest sign of GOP backlash after the Trump administration announced Thursday that it would make good on a threat to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Mexico and Canada, ending an exemption for the key trading allies.

McConnell has repeatedly warned the administration against such trade moves, particularly over concerns that steep tariffs could roil the economy and spark retaliation from other countries. 

"It won't surprise you to know that I'm among those not happy about the prospect of a trade war," the Senate GOP leader said Friday.

McConnell is one of several GOP lawmakers who have spoken out against Trump's tariff decision.

"I disagree with this decision," Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout Will the Federal Reserve make a mistake by shifting to inflation? Sanders: Democrats ‘absolutely’ have chance to win back rural America  MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday

Meanwhile,  GOP Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseCongress raises pressure on Saudi Arabia Toobin: Flake and Sasse ‘never actually take a stand’ against Trump GOP lawmaker on Trump's 'Horseface' comment: 'That's not the way men act' MORE (Neb.) has called the move "dumb"; Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Congress should work with Trump and not 'cowboy' on Saudi Arabia, says GOP senator US to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the tariffs are a "tax hike" and GOP Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCongress raises pressure on Saudi Arabia GOP-affiliated voters outperforming Democrats in key states’ early voting: report The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says he is cutting foreign aid over caravan | Lawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince | DNC chair downplays 'blue wave' talk MORE (Tenn.) argued Trump was abusing his authority to impose tariffs tied to national security.

Republicans have also been up front about the fact that they are worried Trump's trade moves could roil the economy months before a midterm election, undoing what they view as a boost from last year's tax bill. 

GOP Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (Pa.) announced on Friday that he would support legislation by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeCongress raises pressure on Saudi Arabia Senators pledge action on Saudi journalist’s disappearance Bernie Sanders: US should pull out of war in Yemen if Saudis killed journalist MORE (R-Utah) that would boost congressional oversight on Trump's tariff decisions.

But McConnell on Friday downplayed the chances that Congress would ultimately pass a bill reining in Trump's trade powers. 

The Senate GOP leader said there was "not much" lawmakers could do, noting any legislation would have to be signed by the president or have enough support to overcome a veto.

“Under the trade law, the president has pretty much all the ability to do these things, so there’s not much we can do to impact it. It’s really an executive branch activity. ... It’s just that I think many of us feel that it shouldn’t be done," McConnell told Insider Louisville. 

—Updated at 5:31 p.m.